Coppola: Baseball And Need To Be Perfect

By William Coppola

When you go to a Long Island Ducks game in the Independent Atlantic League, you will see ballplayers that are trying to get noticed by a big league team and witness some pretty good baseball. Watching games at this level is much the same as anywhere else it is played. Baseball is baseball at any level, or is it?
Here it has everything that you would expect from the major leagues but with a few twists. Some of the different things you will experience is free parking, inexpensive good seats, reasonable concession prices and a safe fan friendly place to bring your family. You will also notice that there is no review on close calls. Today we have become so stuck on watching, waiting, waiting, and waiting for someone to make a decision on whether a player was out or safe by a half inch. I believe it makes us lose focus on the beauty of baseball’s imperfection.
God forbid if the umpire got it wrong by a fraction of an inch, on a split second play that was a blur to our naked eyes. At the Duck’s games there are three umpires who make all the calls the old fashion way, they call them as they see them. Umpire Joe Iglio told me after his night behind the plate at a Duck’s game this season, “There was the usual barking from the dugout or under the breath words of disagreement from a batter and that was about it.”
There was very little if any arguing from the managers or players on the field that night. That is because there were only a few close calls and the umpire’s decision was final.
You may ask, “what’s an argument on the field?” Well let me bring you back a few years to when there was no replay review in baseball. By the way, it is only done at the major league level. See there was a time where we got to see real interesting drama on the field with the likes of Bobby Cox, Billy Martin, Earl Weaver and sweet Lou Piniella, who would put on a show for us when they disagreed with an umpire.
Before replay, we were all able to see the decision process unfold before our own eyes. Amazing how the umpire was never wrong! Today at the major league level we see MLB players on the field immediately point to their ears as they signal to their dugout that this play must be looked at and like little kids who need their mommies to make things right on the playground.
Then we sit, watch and wait as two umpires stand near the dugout with headphones. My guess is that they have been probably put on hold, maybe listening to some soft music as they wait for the “Wizard of Oz” to make his decision from behind that green curtain in the Chelsea Market building.
That being said about replay, now there is this new hysteria over the strike zone. There has been a lot of buzz on the sports talk shows and in the media about a need to begin to call balls and strikes electronically. Holy smokes what’s next, pitching machines so no one gets hit by a ball? What happens when the tech support geek overseeing this new piece of technology, who probably hates baseball, gets lost on the home shopping network instead of paying attention to this strike zone machine that is now calling pitches in the dirt strikes?
Oh you say that could never happen?  Yea, and our computers never decide to act like old washing machines.
There are cries that the umpires are terrible. Well people have been saying that since Babe Ruth played, It’s all part of the game. Stop trying to fix something that is not broken. We don’t need a perfect strike zone to enjoy this game. It was never a problem for real fans.
Is it possibly a problem for the people who are obsessed with fantasy baseball and the fact that there is money on the line now? Big money in some cases during every game? Are these betting people the ones who need to have everything perfect? Are they the ones who are pushing for things like an electronic strike zone machine?
According to the Sports Geek web site, “Baseball, one of the most entertaining sports to watch, is also one of the most exciting sports to bet on.” In their article entitled “Finding the Best MLB Betting Sites of 2018” they state that: “Whether you’re aware of it or not, selecting a site online to take your MLB betting action is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your betting career.”
DraftKings is marketed as MLB’s “Official Daily Fantasy Game.” Their signage is flashed around every stadium in America. MLB entered a partnership with DraftKings in 2013. Replay review began in 2014. Ummm. Makes you wonder, who is all this (make the game perfect) for anyway? I remember signs on the backstops of ballparks that said “No Pepper” and “No Betting.”
I’m not accusing anyone of trying to make baseball great again by collusion between MLB and DraftKings. I am just trying to understand why there is such a deluge of technology being shoved down the throats of fans who just want to watch a ballgame? Is MLB trying to make baseball perfect for the fans as a whole or is it being done to satisfy the betters?
You won’t see any of that amazing technology at a Ducks game. What you will see is baseball. Yes real baseball, the way it was always meant to be. With all it’s amazing imperfections.
WILLIAM COPPOLA IS A CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST FOR THE BRONX CHRONICLE WITH AN EXTENSIVE CAREER IN BASEBALL AS A PLAYER, COACH, UMPIRE AND SCOUT
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